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Rugby World Cup: Eye on the Tiger

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Marcos Ayerza is the last remaining Leicester Tigers player in the Rugby World Cup, preparing for Argentina's quarter-final against Ireland next Sunday.Eight Tigers players began the tournament with their national squads and Tonga Npo8 Opeti Fonua was the first to return to the club, earning a run-put as a second-half replacement in Saturday’s Kings of the North victory over Sale Sharks at Welford Road.   Michele Rizzo’s tournament was cut short by a knee ligament injury, but Leonardo Ghiraldini, Vereniki Goneva, Dan Cole, Ben Youngs and Tom Youngs are all now due back at the club in readiness for the new season.   You can look out for Tigers in World Cup match action in our photo galleries by clicking here http://www.leicestertigers.com/fans/galleries/2015_2016.php   WEEK ONE After the opening weekend of the tournament, only Tongan back-rower Opeti Fonua among the Tigers eight at the World Cup was still to get a taste of the action. Friday: England v Fiji Dan Cole and Tom Youngs start in England front row, Ben Youngs starts at scrum-half and wins his 50th cap. Vereniki Goneva, the vice-captain, is at centre for Fiji. Tom is on the ball at a driving maul when the referee awards a penalty try in the opening quarter - the first try of the tournament. All three of Tigers' England men are replaced during the second half, Goneva plays all 80 minutes. Saturday: Tonga v Georgia No8 Opeti Fonua is not included in Tonga's matchday 23 for their tournament opener, but they lose 17-10 to Georgia in the first shock of the tournament. France v Italy Leonardo Ghiraldini is named as Italy captain for a 10th time in his career in the absence of Sergio Parisse and wins his 79th Test cap. He is part of the most-capped starting front row in Rugby World Cup history alongside Matias Aguero (36) and Martin Castrogiovanni (113). Their combined total of 227 Test appearances is 12 more than the previous best when Gurthro Steenkamp, John Smit and CJ van der Linde started South Africa's 87-0 win over Namibia during RWC 2011. Tigers front row colleague Michele Rizzo is used as a second-half replacement as France win 32-10. Sunday: New Zealand v Argentina Marcos Ayerza earns cap No61 as the Pumas run out at Wembley Stadium against the defending world champions at Wembley Stadium. Argentina lead 13-12 at half-time, before the All Blacks claim two second-half tries to take a 26-16 victory in the opening match of their title defence.    WEEK TWO Wednesday Australia v Fiji Vereniki Goneva retains his place in the No13 for Fiji as face play Australia just five days after their opening-round defeat by England. The Wallabies win 28-13 but miss out on a bonus point. Friday Argentina v Georgia Marcos Ayerza retains his place in the Pumas front row for their second fixture, against a Georgia team who opened with victory over Tonga. The Pumas win 54-9. Saturday England v Wales Dan Cole, Tom Youngs and Ben Youngs all retain their starting places for England as Sam Burgess comes in for the injured Jonathan Joseph at centre and Owen Farrell replaces George Ford at fly-half. England lead 25-15 but Wales eventually take the honours, 28-25 in a breathless evening at Twickenham.   Italy v Canada Tigers front-rowers Michele Rizzo and Leonardo Ghiraldini start together for Italy in their Pool D game at Leeds on Saturday (2.30pm). Hooker Ghiraldini captains the Azzurri for the second time in the tournament, while Rizzo makes his first start on the loosehead side. Rizzo claims the first Tigers points of the World Cup with a try as Italy win 23-18.   Tuesday Tonga v Namibia Opeti Fonua, Leicester’s new No8, receives his first World Cup call-up as he is named among the replacements for Tonga in their second game. He is used after just 20 minutes as Tonga score a bonus-point 35-21 victory.   Thursday Wales v Fiji Vereniki Goneva, making his third appearance of the tournament, lines up in the 13 shirt for the vital match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium and becomes the second Tigers try-scorer of the tournament, finishing a thrilling move for the Flying Fijians. Wales, though, come through to win 23-13. WEEK THREE Saturday England v Australia Ben Youngs recovers in time from an ankle injury to take his place alongside Dan Cole and Tom Youngs in England’s starting XV, which sees a return for Jonathan Joseph, Joe Launchbury and Ben Morgan after the Wales defeat. But England are knocked out of the tournament after a 33-13 defeat.   Sunday Argentina v Tonga Marcos Ayerza retains his place in the front row as the Pumas record a 45-16 victory at Leicester City. Opeti Fonua is used as a second-half replacement as Tonga select the oldest team in RWC history. The starting XV has an average age of 31 years and 38 days – Opeti turned 29 in May. The team is also Tonga’s most experienced RWC XV with 349 caps. Former Tiger Steve Mafi is also on the bench.   Ireland v Italy Sergio Parisse returns from injury to lead Italy as Leonardo Ghiraldini misses out with a thigh muscle injury. Tigers prop Michele Rizzo is among the replacements and joins the action after 62 minutes as Ireland triumph 16-9. Rizzo, though, suffers a knee injury and is ruled out of the rest of the World Cup. Former Tigers prop Martin Castrogiovanni’s World Cup is over too.   Tuesday Fiji v Uruguay Vereniki Goneva ends his World Cup campaign in a 47-15 win for Fiji at Milton Keynes, in his fourth successive start at centre. Fiji skipper Akapusi Qera wins his 51st cap to edge past Seremaia Bai as the country’s second-most-capped player but still 20 behind Nicky Little.   Friday New Zealand v Tonga Opeti Fonua is not included in the 23 for Tonga’s last game of the campaign.   Saturday England v Uruguay Dan Cole and Tom Youngs are named to start their fourth successive game in England’s front row for the final Pool A game against Uruguay at the City of Manchester Stadium. Scrum-half Ben Youngs is ruled out with an ankle injury.   Sunday Argentina v Namibia Marcos Ayerza is an unused replacement as Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade makes 11 changes for the final game to be played at Leicester City stadium. The Pumas win 64-19.   Italy v Romania With Michele Rizzo ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury, Tigers colleague Leonardo Ghiraldini is also forced to sit out a second successive game with a thigh injury.   WEEK FOUR Quarter-Finals Ireland v Argentina